The purpose of work

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As a midlife woman who grew up in the 60s and 70s, a career was still perceived as an option. Even today, I still make a distinction between a job and a career.

A job is what you do until something better turns up but a career is in the top three things that define you. You will make sacrifices to keep and nurture it.

I met up with a dear friend last week. She has recently retired, and at eight years younger, I have that prospect ahead. We are both passionate about our work. Our careers are hugely important to us. They motivate, drive and inspire. They are hard won, require sacrifice and have helped us through the bad times. They are somewhere to channel energy and to escape and drown sorrows when everything else fell apart around us.

We are not alone. Many people reading this will recognise this split career personality. The positive life force v. the something to hide behind.

My friend has two daughters, one is career driven. She loves her work. Long hours are part of the course. The other loves her work between the hours of 9-5 and then goes home to love the rest of her life. Both have interesting stimulating professional jobs.  How can two sisters who have the same female role model be so different? It must be nature not nurture surely?

Or maybe its something else. Our purpose in life has nothing to do with how we make a living.

Of couse you may happen to find some of that purpose in your career but you should not see your career as THE driving force. Do not ask the impossible of it. Do not rely on it to  fill other gaps in your life but be clear where it fits in your life.

So which of my friend’s daughters has got it right? Potentially both or neither. It is the motivation that matters, the why, not how many hours you spend at the office.

I feel my generation of women still feel that we have to prove our worth in the workplace. At some level proving we are worthy gets muddled with passion and commitment. As careers plateau in the final decade of work there is a danger of looking back and thinking the effort, the long hours and the passion were misplaced.  Far healthier to appraise it objectively looking back with compassion for yourself and the decisions you made. Your passion still needs a channel when work life dims but part of the joy of being a midlifer is recognising that is okay and being excited to say ‘what next?’.

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Aligning all the “me’s”

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I started this blog by setting out a challenge to myself to introduce new and good things into my life throughout the year. In New Dawns I promised to add something new every two months. H alf way through April. How am I doing? The good news is I’ve kept my intention to write a blog post every two weeks. I’ve not yet found the focus for my blog but it is coming and the more I write the more the act of regular writing becomes less of the issue freeing up headspace to reflect on developing and designing my blog.

I’ve signed up to do a charity run and have started a twice a week running practice using an app. It is more difficult than I anticipated.

I attended a whole wellness spirtual day in London by Hay House. I booked up with trepidation and had one of the best days ever. I came away with piles of books to help me balance mind, body, spirit. The good vibes and good practice lasted a whole week and I came away determined to incorporate meditation every day into my life. That is my new task for April. What was so good about the Hay House day was not the obvious things like the speakers, meeting my favourite wellness blogger Kris Carr, the good feel factor I got from the day or meeting new people who shared my enthusiasm for life balance, great as all those experiences were. No it was the realisation as I put the key in the door to my house at the end of a long day that my passion for the spiritual and wellness is slightly separate from the rest of my life. It made me stop to reflect why. Am I mixing with people unlike me? No. Is my day job out of alignment with what lights me up? Yes. Is it because I’ve yet to make sense of my mind spirit body balance and look at it shyly rather than embrace it? Possibly. Lots to reflect on. Maybe the daily meditation practice will illuminate. So what new thing have you done recently that made you pause for thought and ask ‘so is this me’? How did you find the answer?